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How has your year been?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by FrenchFlower, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. FrenchFlower

    FrenchFlower New commenter

    I am not too sure why I am writing this other than I believe sometimes it helps to air your opinions and feelings.
    This teaching year has been the hardest of my teaching career, even though it has only been one of five years. Having been second in department at my last school - a day prep school I moved to where I currently am to be HOD of my dept in a prep school. Whilst I have enjoyed working with the colleagues here - particularly my deputy I have dreaded going into work.
    I live 1h30 mins from school but I hold my hands up and say that I vastly underestimated the hours I would work at this school. I have as many duties as I do lessons - double prep duties, lunch is a duty (we serve the children), dorm duty at night, Saturday school, Sunday duties, regularly working 14 hour days with not even 5 mins to change for games in. Matches in the middle of nowhere. I have tried to introduce things such as a French show but with no support from SMT as it is "not the way of the school". We have a meeting every 20 min first break (our only break) which is complusory. The children are challenging, tired and run down. Mainly due to the fact that they have no free time. I was very upset last week as I set a French shop up in the corner of my classroom and some of them vandalised it. It's upsetting seeing the children like that but it is hard to enforce discipline here - many of them board and are fed up. I used to thrive on making strong working relationships with my pupils but here I feel I am not doing so. They all seem to have an attitude of not caring.
    We access the children all the time - effort grades, attainment, every 3 weeks. Written ones every half term. What worries me is whilst we have just had the best set of CE results for my department, I feel I am no longer a motivated and able teacher. I feel bad habits creeping in - mainly because they eek and take away my time. Little by little. As a result I cannot prepare lessons, I walk in and look at SOW and then where we last left off. I cannot remember the last time I marked books. I would be doing that at midnight. I see my partner twice a week basically. I am provided with a tiny student like flat (due to being an unmarried female member of staff). I used to be a strong runner - now I am too exhausted, stressed or at work so I cannot train properly. I have no interests outside anymore and barely see friends and family. Not even my subject interests me like it used to do. I literally try to get away with the minimum.
    When I went for this role my old Head warned me about this but stupidly I just said it would be ok as it is a well respected and known prep school, and my first HOD role. Now I am left feeling like a failure.
    Luckily in April I saw a role as HOD of languages at a more local prep school, a day one. Far more up my street. I hope that all is not lost and I can return to doing what I believe I am good at, teaching.
    I know we break up in just over two weeks but I cannot seem to see that far ahead. I feel like this last year has been a year long nightmare. I feel silly.
    Yes I could say some good things have come out of it, first HOD role, working with some nice colleagues, some nice children but I just cannot seem to see the positives. I still drive to work and sit in my car for 10 minutes mustering up the motivation to get out. I listen to the 15 minutes of confusing announcements for children every morning, every lunch and every supper. I dread tomorrow's Saturday school, my Sunday duty...the list goes on.

    I just worry that this experience has tainted my future. That it has turned me into a moany and dull person. I want to get back to being excited about what and how I am going to teach the children. Having random chats with pupils.
    Thanks for listening - I just feel stupid and a little bit of a failure atm. As I am sat writing this I have before me, spread into three rooms, 45 tired and off task children doing their second prep of the day.

     
  2. FrenchFlower

    FrenchFlower New commenter

    I am not too sure why I am writing this other than I believe sometimes it helps to air your opinions and feelings.
    This teaching year has been the hardest of my teaching career, even though it has only been one of five years. Having been second in department at my last school - a day prep school I moved to where I currently am to be HOD of my dept in a prep school. Whilst I have enjoyed working with the colleagues here - particularly my deputy I have dreaded going into work.
    I live 1h30 mins from school but I hold my hands up and say that I vastly underestimated the hours I would work at this school. I have as many duties as I do lessons - double prep duties, lunch is a duty (we serve the children), dorm duty at night, Saturday school, Sunday duties, regularly working 14 hour days with not even 5 mins to change for games in. Matches in the middle of nowhere. I have tried to introduce things such as a French show but with no support from SMT as it is "not the way of the school". We have a meeting every 20 min first break (our only break) which is complusory. The children are challenging, tired and run down. Mainly due to the fact that they have no free time. I was very upset last week as I set a French shop up in the corner of my classroom and some of them vandalised it. It's upsetting seeing the children like that but it is hard to enforce discipline here - many of them board and are fed up. I used to thrive on making strong working relationships with my pupils but here I feel I am not doing so. They all seem to have an attitude of not caring.
    We access the children all the time - effort grades, attainment, every 3 weeks. Written ones every half term. What worries me is whilst we have just had the best set of CE results for my department, I feel I am no longer a motivated and able teacher. I feel bad habits creeping in - mainly because they eek and take away my time. Little by little. As a result I cannot prepare lessons, I walk in and look at SOW and then where we last left off. I cannot remember the last time I marked books. I would be doing that at midnight. I see my partner twice a week basically. I am provided with a tiny student like flat (due to being an unmarried female member of staff). I used to be a strong runner - now I am too exhausted, stressed or at work so I cannot train properly. I have no interests outside anymore and barely see friends and family. Not even my subject interests me like it used to do. I literally try to get away with the minimum.
    When I went for this role my old Head warned me about this but stupidly I just said it would be ok as it is a well respected and known prep school, and my first HOD role. Now I am left feeling like a failure.
    Luckily in April I saw a role as HOD of languages at a more local prep school, a day one. Far more up my street. I hope that all is not lost and I can return to doing what I believe I am good at, teaching.
    I know we break up in just over two weeks but I cannot seem to see that far ahead. I feel like this last year has been a year long nightmare. I feel silly.
    Yes I could say some good things have come out of it, first HOD role, working with some nice colleagues, some nice children but I just cannot seem to see the positives. I still drive to work and sit in my car for 10 minutes mustering up the motivation to get out. I listen to the 15 minutes of confusing announcements for children every morning, every lunch and every supper. I dread tomorrow's Saturday school, my Sunday duty...the list goes on.

    I just worry that this experience has tainted my future. That it has turned me into a moany and dull person. I want to get back to being excited about what and how I am going to teach the children. Having random chats with pupils.
    Thanks for listening - I just feel stupid and a little bit of a failure atm. As I am sat writing this I have before me, spread into three rooms, 45 tired and off task children doing their second prep of the day.

     
  3. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    The first year in any new job is always very challenging, as you are in the dark about many things and therefore cannot be as prepared as you would like. Now you know how the year is structured etc you can do more forward planning when you do have the time to ease the load when you are very busy.
    Working in a boarding school is always going to be a huge culture shock after working in a day school, some people can cope, some people can't, don't worry if you ultimately decide that boarding life is not for you.
    Well done on the CE results :)
     
  4. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    I think it's a matter of excessive work load rather than "can't cope with a boarding school", to be perfectly honest.
     
  5. How has my year been? Identical to yours. I have worked in my current (prep, boarding) school for 2 years and this year decided that enough was enough. I have a new job, back to Senior, boarding. I am looking forward to getting to see my husband and family again and get back to the gym and running again. You are not alone.
     
  6. Aaahhh, life in a boarding prep school! I know exactly how you are feeling as i did it for a year. I felt like nothing more than an underpaid, overworked child-minder. I got out as soon as i could and returned to a normal school where i would actually be valued for teaching (and would be allowed to go home and - shock horror - have a life!)
     
  7. I would look for a job in the state sector. There an ordinary classroom teacher gets £36,000 or so after about ten years, TPS pension scheme, with no management duties, five day week, no evenings at school apart from the odd parents' or open evening, and holidays are are only a week or two less than in the private sector.
     
  8. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    You think[​IMG]
     
  9. Ireton

    Ireton New commenter

    Hi,
    Firstly congrats on your excellent results - have you been praised and thanked by the Head for these or the SMT - if not perhaps ask them why this is the case. You say the school was critical of your attempts to introduce new ideas, why do you think this is - are you not suited to what they are looking for?.
    I made the move from boarding to day a decade ago and haven't looked back. Boarding preps suck the life out of you, though some are better than others with their use of gap students and lots of on site House parents who do that job. Education has become more and more complicated and involved and many scholls have just added this on to staff who are already fully committed. The school having a name means nothing, what matters is your health and enjoyment of the job. In my opinion and experience a prep boarding school is a very difficult and demanding environment to teach in. The pupils are kept active, to keep them busy and the staff have to supervise or be with them almost 24 hours a day, there isn' the time to smply relax. I can sympathise with your incident over damage to work, I have had similar experiences from children that are bored and exhausted.
    When I was a Housemaster at such a school I was HOD and then came 'home' to run a boarding house for the next 24 hours. Ok, I had free rent and free food but no life at all and just a 24 hour period off a week, in many cases I was then called by the school over issues that had arisen. I simply did not relax. Going to a day school and leaving at 6.00 p.m. each day was a joy, especially on Friday night! I also began teaching again rather than child minding. Looking back, I realise that I was just tired all the time, never resting and being held at the beck and call of the school for a salary that wssn't great then and without any career development.
    These days I work at a very fine school in London, but have a long and expensive commute on top of this, up at 05.50 most days and rarely back prior to 7. However, I spend my time teaching and have much more of a social life either in London or my home area.
    Some are suited to boarding schools but even after Year 1, it is something thst means a full commitment and willingness to deny yourself a great deal of independence. You may save money but what cost?
    Good luck!
     
  10. boatmanco

    boatmanco New commenter

    I feel EXACTLY the same way. Worked in same school for 3 years but this year has been the final straw. Have no life at all outside school. Husband and I play "tag" with our own children. Have no hobbies as always at school or marking etc. Clawing my way until next week but still find myself miserable even with prospect of 8 weeks off -already worried about next term. Have to give so much notice that I will never be able to find another job so have decided to jump ship before I have another job to go to....very depressing really.
     
  11. Oh Boatmanco! If it's any consolation at all, I was in your position and handed in my notice before securing my next job - but I did get the next job so it all worked out in the end! Maybe worth considering the leap into the unknown! Actually, my old Head told me I had to hand in my notice when I said I'd applied for another job and had an interview (before the 1 term deadline) - I was going to try to explain that it is perfectly acceptable to apply for other jobs and go on interviews BEFORE handing in your notice, but then I didn't bother as I guess indies can probably do whatever they like. I now work in a school where I am allowed to have some work life balance and they follow the pay and conditions of the burgundy book - bliss.
     
  12. Ireton

    Ireton New commenter

    Hi French Flower,
    There is something that you can do. I'm not saying that it would work but it may help the SMT to put matters into perspective. Have you done a work/life balance audit? I did one of those recently as my fiance was companing about never seeing me and saw how much `i was doing, how many hours I was putting in - and this is in a day school. I then compared it to other staff in the school with the same responsibilities as I had. I then took this to the head and made them fully aware basically saying that, "I can do A,B and C or A B and D but not A,B,C and D -which one do you want me to give up?' It worked! I found in Boarding Schools, but I think in all prep schools, it is easy to take on more and more and some SMT are so far removed from the chalk face they have little or no idea of the reality, especially if they are living in pleasant 3 bedroom house on site but away from the kids.
    Also, on a recent ATL course we had to look at our work life baance, and we call came to the same conclusion - teaching is crazy in term time but you catch up in the hols!
    Have a go at looking at your work and commitments to the school and ask the SMT how someone is meant to do this and have a life?
    Good luck
     
  13. jessbgirl

    jessbgirl New commenter

    Dr History,
    You make it sound like teachers in the state sector have got it easy. Having taught in 3 different state schools I can assure you that it is not 'the easy option' that you are describing!!
     
  14. I didn't mean to imply that teachers in the state sector have got it easy. I think teachers in the state sector have a fair deal. Was anything I wrote factually inaccurate?
     
  15. Funnily enough I have got a job in private sector starting next September and all my state colleagues are under the impression that is going to be much easier!
    I think we have to accept that no -one school model fits all tachers. What is hard for some is easy for others and there is also no right answer.
    What I do know is that if I am not feeling that the place and system is right for you/me, then it is worth moving and trying somewhere else. That does not guarantee the new place will be better, just different but maybe better suited to you/ me.
     
  16. Hi FrenchFlower. Just wondering how this year went? Hope ok.
     

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